All posts by globalmission95

Meeting Jesus in Others is Highlighted at the 2018 GEMN Global Mission Conference

Conference 2018

“We go into mission to meet the other, where God is present. Not because there are needy people, or to plant a church, or to teach. But we go to meet Jesus there. Thinking we are missionaries, we become disciples. We go to meet God, who is already present in the other.”

So declared Monica Vega, a missionary in the mountains of northwest Argentina, in keynoting the 2018 Global Mission Conference held April 11-13 at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. Sponsored by St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, Vega serves with Heidi Schmidt, and the two laywomen have taken private vows for mission service that over the past 30 years have taken them to Kenya, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

See Our Conference Highlights Page

“How much courage do we have to talk about how much healing happened for us as we went in mission for the other?” Vega asked as she told the story of a “Type A” lawyer who wept as an 11-year-old orphan boy he met on a mission trip helped him identify with his own experience of being abandoned. “We have these broken pieces, and God uses a glue we did not expect to put us back together.”

Schmidt highlighted how she and Vega introduce children and teenagers to silence and contemplative prayer as a “divine therapy” in Argentina, where they are in the process of establishing a hermitage as a resource for local people. She helped a man struggling with alcoholism discover centering prayer, and he came back later to say, “You changed my life!”

Building on the conference theme, “Mission Connects Us: God, World, Church,” Schmidt had each attendee weave three strands of yarn, representing God, world and themselves. “None of the three is at the center all the time,” she noted, “but God is in the midst of all three, holding them together.”

“Mission begins with God . . . and reconciliation is the heart of God’s mission,” said keynoter Robert Heaney, director of Virginia Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS), which is celebrating its 20th year as it co-sponsored the conference with the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN).

“Without a theology of mission we perish,” Heaney said in basing his presentation on the cosmic vision of God’s mission in Christ in Ephesians 1:5-10. Heaney decried “cultural subjugation” in the history of Euro-American mission in Africa, Asia and Latin America and called for a genuinely inter-cultural theology of mission.

“Without partnership in mission we perish,” was the theme of keynoter John Kafwanka, a Zambian priest who is director for mission for the Anglican Communion, working out of St. Andrew’s House in London. “Partnership in Mission” has been a model for Anglican mission since its promotion by the Anglican Consultative Council in the 1970s. Noting that partnership as a paradigm has more recently been criticized as emphasizing money and projects, Kafwanka called for salvaging partnership on the model of the apostle Paul’s relationship with the Christians at Philippi.

Kafwanka said mission partnership is a collaboration characterized by shared vision, diversity and interdependence, mutual accountability and respect, shared receiving and giving, and mutual listening and learning. He reminded the 90 attendees of the enduring importance of the theme of the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto: “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.”

In seeking to intensify GEMN’s role in connecting mission activists with one another, one conference session featured a large circle in which attendees introduced themselves and their mission work to the entire group – in one minute or less, a limit followed so closely that there was time to spare. Discussion tables were grouped first by geographical areas and then by mission modes such as short-term, longterm, pastoral, educational or medical work.

In workshops, Dean Pierre Gabaud of Le Seminaire Theologie d’Eglise Episcopal du Haiti discussed parameters for development work in Haiti; VTS students shared experiences of cross-cultural pilgrimage; Sue von Rautenkranz of the Diocese of Washington presented on transformational mission; and Ted Gaiser, a former missionary in Colombia and former president of GEMN, discussed the challenges faced by missionaries when they return home.

Healthy short-term mission patterns were the subject of a workshop presented by Bill Kunkle, executive director of the Dominican Development Group, a companionship among a number of US mainland dioceses and the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Elizabeth Boe, Buck Blanchard and Jenny Grant outlined the work of the Global Partnerships Office of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) at the Episcopal Church Center.

Health Tanzania, a medical foundation supporting a hospital, AIDS ministry and public health initiatives in Dar es Salaam, was introduced by Henry and Priscilla Ziegler, former DFMS missionaries in Tanzania. Dale Stanton-Hoyle and Lucy Chaves of Five Talents presented about building sustainable communities among the world’s poor. Former missionary Fran Early offered a workshop based on her book Doing Good Says Who? presenting five principles for getting beyond good intentions in mission.

“Mission as Mutual Transformation” was the theme of an after-dinner plenary talk by David Copley, director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel at the Episcopal Church Center. “We engage in mission because God created humanity in God’s image,” he said. “We engage globally because we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. We engage globally because we are called to love God and neighbor.

“For mutually transformative mission,” Copley said, “we must engage in critical thinking, learn about our partners and their history, share our stories and hear the stories of our distant family. God has been there before us and will be with us in all our journeys.”

GEMN’s two-year Mission Formation Program was held on the day preceding the conference with seven participants. Sally Thompson of the Diocese of Southwest Florida graduated with the program’s Certificate as a Global Mission Agent after presenting a study she conducted of mission work in the Dominican Republic through the Dominican Development Group.

At GEMN’s Annual Meeting, Jaime Briceño of Bexley Seabury Seminary was elected to the 12-member Board of Directors. The new Board elected its officers: president, Titus Presler of the Diocese Vermont and Bridges to Pakistan; vice president, Grace Burton-Edwards of the Diocese of Atlanta; secretary, Suzanne Peterson of the Diocese of Ohio; and treasurer, David Kendall-Sperry of the Diocese of Ohio.

Established in 1995, GEMN is the Episcopal Church’s freestanding network of global mission activist dioceses, individuals, organizations and seminaries. Cosponsoring the 2018 conference, in addition to CACS, were the Diocese of Virginia, the Diocese of Ohio, and St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Continuing its pattern of meeting outside the continental USA once every three years, the 2019 Global Mission Conference will be held in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, April 3-5, with the Formation Program held on April 2. To join this network of mission activists as an individual, parish, institutional, or diocesan member visit .

American Society of Missiology offers new “MissionalPreacher” resource

MissionalPreacher was created by the American Society of Missiology as a lectionary-based resource for pastors and congregational leaders in the North American context who endeavor to engage the mission field that lies outside their congregation’s front door. It intentionally focuses on the missiological aspects of Sunday texts as prescribed by the Revised Common Lectionary. Each Sunday’s interpretation is authored by members of the American Society of Missiology as they bring their missiological lens to the understanding and interpretation of biblical texts. It is the hope that MissionalPreacher offers a fresh, cutting edge, and transformational understanding of biblical texts to assist in faithful reflection on the Word of God for the people and communities we serve.

Find the MissionalPreacher resource at

I AM – Caravan Peacebuilding Art Exhibition – Washington DC – Sep 5-Oct 22

CARAVAN-IAM2017I AM is a peacebuilding exhibition that premiered in Amman, Jordan under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah involving 31 of the Middle East’s premier contemporary women artists that promotes and celebrates the many accomplishments of Middle Eastern women in shaping our world into a peaceful and harmonious one. 

I AM celebrates the rich, diverse and crucial contributions that women from the Middle East make to the enduring global quest for harmony and peace. In this way, the exhibition aims to challenge existing stereotypes and misconceptions about Middle Eastern women by showing how they dynamically and very significantly contribute to the fabric of local and global culture. I AM will showcase the insights and experiences of Middle Eastern women as they confront issues of culture, religion and social reality in a rapidly changing world both in the Middle East and West.  This exhibition is an acknowledgement of how they continue to creatively evolve new narratives that uphold their rich heritage while embracing a future full of challenges.

Reconciliation Highlighted As Heart of God’s Mission at Global Episcopal Mission Network Conference

By the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler

Reconciliation as the heart and overall direction of God’s mission in the world was addressed from ethnic, interfaith, racial and inter-Anglican perspectives at the annual global mission conference, “Reconciliation: God’s Mission – and Ours,” sponsored recently by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) at Camp McDowell in the Diocese of Alabama.

gemn2017macdinthedougThe church needs to “recover reconciliation as the paradigm for Christian mission,” said keynoter Mark MacDonald, the national indigenous bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, where he has guided reconciliation processes between First Nations and Canadian churches and society in the wake of abuses suffered by indigenous children in residential schools.

“Reconciliation calls us to new life – it’s the restoration of moral order that invites transformation and a new order of life,” he said as he reflected on Jesus’ ministry and the petition for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer. He stressed that reconciliation has three dimensions – vertical with God, horizontal with other people, and circular with the cosmos, which includes planet earth. Horizontal and circular reconciliation are possible only through God’s vertical initiative with us in Christ.

“Mission as hospitality is a Christendom conversation about trying to get people into church,” MacDonald said in challenging one current view of mission. He pointed out that, in contrast, when Jesus sent out seventy followers, he told them to depend on the hospitality of those they visited. This analysis resonated with the 75 conference attenders, who had experienced the hospitality of mission companions in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

MacDonald also challenged a common assumption that reconciliation begins with an oppressor’s repentance and proceeds through the victim’s forgiveness, for often, he said, the sequence is the opposite: “Reconciliation begins when victims are inspired to reclaim their humanity and then move toward forgiveness, which invites the oppressor into a new relationship. Then begins the repair of the oppressor’s humanity, for there can be no participation in a colonial system without damage to the soul and to one’s humanity.”

“Communities can become incubators of reconciliation,” MacDonald said, referring both to missionaries in other societies and to the church in North America. Incubating reconciliation includes accompanying the suffering, offering hospitality for sufferers, being places of truth-telling, and facilitating the transformation that occurs as victims and oppressors reclaim their humanity.

gemn2017kiminthedoug“What does being a guest look like?” asked Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation at the Episcopal Church Center. “Seeing people as victims is part of how we’ve done mission, whereas people have their own agency, and it’s important for them to move from victimhood to survivor-hood.” Kim critiqued what she called the White Savior Complex, in which whites both acknowledge their role in colonization and imagine that they are central agents of decolonization around the world, denying the power of indigenous peoples to catalyze their own liberation.

“Seeing people as victims is part of how we’ve done mission, whereas people have their own agency, and it’s important for them to move from victimhood to survivor-hood.”

Kim used images and anecdotes from popular culture to highlight what she called the spiritual narcissism that is sometimes expressed when people from the United States encounter racial and cultural difference in ministering elsewhere in the world.

One example was a fictional news story in the satirical publication, The Onion, accompanied by a picture of a young white woman smiling with two black children. The headline, “6-day Visit to Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile,” illustrated the danger of missionaries focusing on what mission does for themselves while minimizing injustice in the world.

An image of US-based high school students cheerfully painting the wall of a school building while local Mexican youth glumly look on prompted Kim to note “the dark side of gratitude.” When people say, “Going on a short-term mission trip made me so grateful for what I have,” the underlying attitude may be that they’re grateful they are not “the other” and that they want to keep what they have.

gemn2017paulgordoninthedougEmphasizing opportunities for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, Paul-Gordon Chandler urged conferees to wage peace with Muslims, build on commonalities between the two religions, recognize that Christianity, like Islam, is Middle Eastern in origin, build bridges creatively, and undertake relationships with Muslims as a pilgrimage.

With long experience in the Muslim world, including pastorates in Tunis and Cairo, Chandler, an Episcopal Church missionary, is the founding director of Caravan, a non-profit organization that builds peace through traveling inter-religious art exhibits that are hosted in such venues as the National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman, Jordan; St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Riverside Church in New York City; and American University in Washington, D.C. Its current exhibition, “I Am,” features the art of Middle Eastern women of several religions.

Noting that the crescent symbol of Islam highlights only a small part of the moon, Chandler said the crescent can be interpreted as what is different about Islam, whereas the remaining dark side of the moon can be seen as what Muslims and Christians hold in common. “Build relationships on the dark side of the moon,” he said. “Read the Quran to find out what we share rather than what we don’t share.”

Chandler pointed out that Muslims see Jesus as the messiah who will come again and also believe in the virgin birth. He said that Muslim prostrations derive from Syrian Orthodoxy, Ramadan derives from Lent, the Hajj derives from Christian pilgrimages, and the five daily times of prayer derive from Benedictine discipline. These and other shared elements provide a basis for reconciling relationship, he suggested.

gemn2017displayphilindaba“All mission is local mission, but it needs the partnership of others, and all global mission is expressed locally,” said Phil Groves of the Church of England as he led two workshops on the role of the Zulu practice of indaba in fostering reconciliation in current tensions among Anglicans, especially about human sexuality. Intensifying the adoption of indaba as a mode of interaction at the the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Groves for ten years directed Continuing Indaba, an initiative to bring dioceses from different parts of the world together for mutual understanding and mission discernment.

“All mission is local mission, but it needs the partnership of others, and all global mission is expressed locally.”

“The Anglican crisis was caused by the donor-recipient model of relationship,” Groves said. Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, the mission watchword adopted by the 1963 Anglican Congress held in Toronto, and Partnership in Mission, the model adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1973, sought to overcome the donor-recipient model but were not implemented completely enough, he suggested.

In addition to the plenary speakers and their seminars, the May 24-26 conference at Camp McDowell featured workshops on companion diocese relationships, the Global Partnerships Office at the Episcopal Church Center, asset-based community development, healthy short-term mission, and young adult work, all of them keyed to the theme of reconciliation.

IMG_4310Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Diocese of Iowa led a workshop on diocesan companionship with his counterpart from the Diocese of Swaziland, Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya, the first African woman bishop. Environmental reconciliation was addressed in workshops by the staff of Camp McDowell, a large conference center that raises much of its own food and supplies much of its own power through solar panels.

In addition to Episcopal Church liturgies, conference worship featured liturgies from the Church of North India, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of Pakistan, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Bishop MacDonald presided at the closing Eucharist, at which Bishop John McKee Sloan of Alabama preached.

Founded in 1994, GEMN is a network of dioceses, congregations, seminaries, individuals and organizations committed to energizing global mission in the Episcopal Church. In addition to the annual conferences, GEMN runs a formation program for mission activists and offers consultation services. The 2018 Global Mission Conference, open to all, will be hosted by the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, April 11-13.

Priest-in-Partnership at St. Matthew’s Church, Enosburg Falls, the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, is a mission theologian, former missionary in Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and the Diocese of Vermont’s representative to the Global Episcopal Mission Network.

Partnership for World Mission Conference Report by Martha Alexander – Swanwick, UK – Nov 2016

DSCN6502This past November I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Partnership for World Mission Conference which was held at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, England. The theme of the conference was “Going the Extra Mile: Mission in a Moving World”.

HayesWorship and Bible Study were a part of our daily routine. There were ten of us in attendance from The Episcopal Church.
 Among the speakers were The Rev. Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, a Senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens who told of the response to the refuge crisis in his country and the needs of the thousands entering Greece. His comments about the ministries taking place, in a country which has its’ own economic problems, was inspiring and heartwarming. Other speakers raised the issues of the importance of relationships, welcoming the stranger through hospitality and the importance of preserving human dignity.

DSCN6500The workshops included these very timely topics: cross-cultural awareness presented by United Society Partners in the Gospel, who work predominantly with Anglicans, but, for over 300 years have worked with churches in their own communities. Their efforts are focused on the development of skills and working for change within the communities, not giving handouts. Other topics were how to engage effectively with refugees and asylum seekers, organizing international visits and using social media. One evening was a theater production which focused on asylum monologues.

 DSCN6501My takeaways from this conference consisted of the importance of continuing to develop relationships within the areas of mission including companion diocese links, whether on a diocesan or parish level. The influx of refugees is a major problem throughout the world. We need to be cognizant that people are leaving their own countries for a myriad of reasons, including economics or the political strife within their particular areas. We need to understand the way this affects our own communities and how we need to prepare to serve those who seek asylum. We need to aid in preserving the dignity of each human being. In the Book of Genesis we read about the migration through the discussion of Abraham. And, the Holy Family fled to Egypt from Bethlehem due to Herod’s order to kill little children; they were what we now describe as refugees. These are not new issues but remain very pressing particularly in our world today.

World-shaped MissionOne of the books I read prior to attending the conference was World-Shaped Mission by Janice Price. I recommend this book to those of you who are involved or interested in mission. Even though the book is focused on the work of the Church of England’s world mission, I think you will find it an excellent resource. I am excited that Janice Price is continuing to do research
 on companion diocese links and I am looking forward to reading her published study.

This was adapted from an article appearing in FOURTH WATCH — Newsletter of The Province of Sewanee — Province IV of The Episcopal Church Vol. 17 No. 1 Spring 2017.

AFRECS Annual Conference – Oct 21-23, 2016 – Des Moines, IA



AFRECS Annual Conference

Marriott Hotel
West Des Moines, Iowa
October 21-23, 2016

“We need constructive support from our Sudanese brothers and
sisters outside the country as we seek to
restore peace and rebuild trust in South Sudan.”
— Rev. Peter Gai, Chairman, South Sudan Council of Churches

Program Information:

This conference will bring together Sudanese from the
Diaspora and from South Sudan with American friends of South
Sudan and Sudan to work for peace and reconciliation in the
world’s youngest nation.

We will ask ourselves:

  • Where are the opportunities to support the Diaspora in
    the USA in its
    efforts for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan?
  • How can the friendship of Americans contribute to
    peacemaking in South Sudan and Sudan?

You can expect:

  • Inspiring stories of how partnerships of South Sudanese
    and Americans, even during these last thirty months of
    conflict, are working together for positive outcomes
  • News of South Sudan from African guests
  • Opportunities to meet and work for peace with friends
    dedicated to building a stable nation in South Sudan
  • Workshops led by experts with experience in mediation
    and peace building
  • Learn what the Commission for National Healing, Peace
    and Reconciliation and the Justice, Peace and
    Reconciliation Commission are doing to train and enable
    peace mobilizers in South Sudan
  • Hear from Sudanese leaders about their challenges,
    learnings and successes as the work to build reconciling
    congregations in the American Diaspora
  • Learn ways the US government is seeking to build peace,
    and what the church is doing to speak for peace to

Distinguished Guests:

  • Bishop Samuel Enosa Peni: Diocese of Nzara, South Sudan
    and Chairperson of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation
    Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and
  • Bishop Joseph Garang Atem: Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
  • His Excellency Pa’gan Amum Okiec: former Secretary
    General of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, signer
    of the Transitional Peace Agreement, August 2015
  • Dr. James A. Leach:  US Representative, Iowa 1st
    Congressional District, 1997-2007; retired Chairman,
    National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Dr. Dane F. Smith: former Senior Advisor in the Office
    of the US Special Envoy for Darfur, Deputy Chief of
    Mission in Sudan, and Ambassador to Guinea and Senegal
  • Mother Harriet Baka Nathan, Provincial Mother’s Union
    Coordinator, South Sudan
  • The Rev. Phil Groves, Continuing Indaba Project,
    Secretariat of the Anglican Communion, London

Conference begins Friday at noon and closes with
Eucharist at 10:15 on Sunday.


Cost: $100 registration fee covers full
attendance.  Meals are included (Friday lunch and
dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch and banquet; Sunday


Diaspora attendees, seminarians, and students are automatically
granted full scholarship.
Please register and identify yourself as
scholarship-eligible to help us plan the meals.  You may make a
free-will donation at your discretion.  Any surplus
funds at the end of the conference will go to the work of
the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South

Hotel: West Des Moines Mariott,  1250 Jordan
Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
Telephone: 515-267-1500, Conference Rate: $109 (plus tax)
per night

Click here to book your room at the group rate.

IMPORTANT: To get the special rate, which applies to
the nights of October 20, 21 and 22, you must book NO LATER
THAN Monday, October 3. 
Please book online or by
phone directly to the hotel.  This rate will not be
available on travel websites.

Air Travel:

Fly to Des Moines
International Airport (DSM). For best fares you are urged to
book ar transportation by August 31. If you fly to DSM and
stay at the Marriott Hotel the hotel will provide
complimentary transportation to and from the airport.  For best service
call the hotel ahead of time and give them your flight

Conference Registration:

To register online:
Online registration is a two-step process.

Step 1: Please Enter Your
Registration Information

Step 2: Please make your
payment online via PayPal

The conference registration fee is $100 per person.
An automatic scholarship for conference fees is available to
students and members of the Diaspora.
To register by mail:
Click here for a printable registration form,
and mail it and your check to:

PO Box 12026
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304


For program information, contact AFRECS at

For logistics information, contact

Diocese of Atlanta – GO! A Celebration of Global Mission – April 16

Go! A Celebration of Global Mission

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
435 Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308

This event sponsored by the Diocese of Atlanta will feature speakers, workshops and a special chance to thank and honor the Rev. Sandra McCann and Dr. Martin McCann of Columbus, who have returned from 12 years of ministering in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Watch for details and mark your calendar!

Click here to register. For additional questions, contact Terry Franzen, Global Mission chair for the Diocese of Atlanta.